PRISHTINE/PRISTINA, 28 September 2010 - A roundtable discussion today with judges, prosecutors and defence counsels to discuss an OSCE Mission report on legal representation in Kosovo concluded that the defence should play a more active role in court proceedings in order to ensure that defendants' rights are respected.
The event gathered representatives of the legal community, who analyzed the findings of an OSCE Mission report on Ineffective Legal Representation, and discussed ways to tackle the identified shortcomings.
As a result of the discussion, the Chamber of Advocates committed itself to distributing the list of all defence counsels, organized according to their areas of specialization, to respective regional courts. The participants agreed that today's event should serve as a model for future forums to enhance co-operation and professional engagement.
Based on its monitoring of criminal and civil court cases, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo identified failures by the defence counsel to make use of guarantees aimed at protecting client's rights, such as the right to request sufficient time to prepare a defence strategy, and failures of the courts to ensure that the defendants are adequately and effectively represented.
In addition, the report also notes the failure of defence counsels to attend court sessions, which violates both professional and ethical obligations of their office.
"Every accused has the right to a proper defence during proceedings and we urge relevant institutions to engage in providing professional legal representation when promoting clients' interests and defending clients' rights," said Harold Dampier Jr., the Chief of the OSCE Mission's Legal System Monitoring Section.
The report contains numerous recommendations for relevant institutions. It urges the courts to proactively manage cases, to ensure that defendants are effectively represented and that proceedings are carried out without delay, and to consider imposing fines or other legal measures to minimize ineffective legal representation.
The report is available at the OSCE website: Ineffective Legal Representation